ADVANCE MOVIE REVIEW: Delivery Man
DELIVERY MAN-- 1 STAR
Dear Vince Vaughn,
Hey, buddy! How's it going? It's been a long time. I say that because I didn't see The Internship, The Dilemma, Couples Retreat, and covered my eyes in shameful embarrassment through most of The Watch. I don't know if I told you, but I ranked The Watch as the worst movie I saw in all of 2012. Sorry to open on a down note, but I wanted to be upfront about where I've been and wanted to come clean.
Vince, I'm sorry that I haven't kept in touch, but the trouble is you keep making bad movies. I miss the good old days of you using your rapid fire verbal wit to its fullest extent. Like so many fellow movie fans, I miss the days of Old School, Wedding Crashers, and Dodgeball. Gosh, I have to admit that I'm still that dork that quotes lines from those movies till this day.
I keep wishing that you would stick to what you're good at, but I understand the artistic inspiration and cravings of a performer to reach further and try new challenges. I get that, dude. Other primarily comedic actors have crossed over to drama and scored big hits, and even a few Oscars. Guys like Tom Hanks, Robin Williams, and others have toed the line to create dramatic characters from comedy sources and found success. I see your Dodgeball buddy Ben Stiller is putting all his chips in the middle for much of the same challenge with The Secret Life of Walter Mitty coming this Christmas. There's nothing wrong with reaching for that.
It becomes about making the right choice for the right role to try. I remember how much crap you got for taking on Norman Bates for the Psycho remake and then not learning that lesson three years later for Domestic Disturbance. I won't talk about those two. I know they are a sore subject. I'll choose to compliment you on something like The Break-Up by taking on a romantic comedy with a little bit of challenge and heft to it compared to the usual happy endings. If it makes you feel better, I did rank The Break-Up as my ninth-best film set and made in Chicago. Does that make you feel better?
Since us Chicago fans need to stick together, I was keenly intrigued and interested when I saw the trailer for your new film Delivery Man, coming this Thanksgiving season. The marketing and "greatest hits" scenes from the marketing really showcased and teased the possibility of you turning over a new leaf in the comedy department. I was really impressed by the overall feeling of heart permeating from the footage. Pardon my French, but you're normally really good at playing the "asshole." After all, the "I'm the asshole" rant of Swingers is legendary and one of those quotes I still love to repeat.
When I had the opportunity to see a free advance screening of Delivery Man, I jumped at the chance, Vince. I was eagerly looking for that new side of you. How did the movie turn out? Well, you should have stuck to being the asshole. You, sir, are no Jimmy Stewart. You, sir, are becoming Adam Sandler. Oh, and despite the enormous bankability of Adam for how his crappy films continue to make money, that's not a compliment.
In the film, you play David Wozniak, one of your usual slacker/man-child characters. That was my first clue that some things weren't going to change. He's a meat truck delivery driver as part of the Polish family business in Brooklyn. Within five minutes of the start of the film, we learn that David's family, particularly the brother played by Saturday Night Live's Bobby Moynihan (nice get, by the way) and the father played by Andrzej Blumenfeld, do not trust David and his constant unreliability. In case we didn't get the clue he was a loser, we see him getting blanketed with parking tickets and illegally trying to grow pot to cover an $80,000 failed business debt with some unsavory thugs. We still haven't left the first five minutes.
On the bright side, well, kind of, after the first five minutes go away, David seems to be a really nice and kindhearted guy. He dates Emma, a respectable and cute NYPD cop played by Cobie Smulders from How I Met Your Mother. Nice catch there, man! He's got a goofy attorney best friend, played by Parks and Recreation star Chris Pratt, named Brett who's over his head as a young father of four. Both are nice additions and you're catching them on the way up with their growing movie careers. It's too bad, though, because you're unreliability rubs off on both of them too, and it shows.
Magically one day, your character meets a creepy lawyer standing in his dump apartment that informs him his long-forgotten anonymous 600+ sperm donations under the pseudonym of "Starbuck" during college have mistakenly fathered 533 children due to clinic error. Of those 533, about 120 or so of them have come together to file a lawsuit to break the anonymity/confidentiality agreement of the fertility clinic and learn the identity of their biological father. And the twist is you have a list of all of their names to check out!
Wow! What a crazy idea for a movie, Vince. Nice work luring this one in. I see that Delivery Man is based on a highly regarded Canadian film and that you were able to lure that very same director, Mr. Ken Scott, for this American remake. Well played, my friend. I was betting all kinds of hilarious situations were going to blossom from that crazy premise. Boy, was I wrong.
I don't have a nice way to say this, Vince. For the next 90+ minutes, Delivery Man continuously goes on to shovel the sloppiest, most useless, and fakest syrup of self-gratifying and self-serving sludge this side of every single Adam Sandler movie for the past decade and even a few of the bad late-90's Robin Williams saccharin-stuffed trainwrecks. The movie is Click bad. This movie is Jack bad. This movie rivals Patch Adams for manufactured emotional garbage. I'm sorry to say it, bro, but your new movie is terrible. You're going to win the award of "worst film of the year" from this website twice in a row.
Logic is not cinema's strong suit, but the infinite holes in Delivery Man baffle me. Your guy David owes eighty grand and still gallivants around for months mysteriously visiting random people who seem to have no problem with your stalker tendencies? Not one of the offspring ever appears pissed at their position, especially when they all implausibly get together as a big group constantly to hangout in hotel conference rooms to talk about the case or conveniently put all of their schedules on hold for a killer camping weekend upstate, which your guy crashes. You get by, over and over, on your winking "you seem trustworthy" smile. That stuff just doesn't work.
The worst is when one of your "children," a well-read vegan hipster by the name of Viggo, played by Adam Chanler-Berat, finds you out. Does he save everyone a lot of suffering and court costs and expose you? No! He just kind of chooses to stay with you for weeks at your place and stalk you stalking others. Not only is he, single-handedly, the worst and most over-the-top movie character I've seen in years, he might even double the screen time your top co-star Cobie is supposed to have. You remember her, right, the woman David actually impregnates with a legitimate child? I would keep going, but you know the film and there's not sense spoiling it, despite its completely predictable denouement and resolution.
This just isn't you, Vince. You tried, man. Unlike your usual asshole persona, you rarely raise your voice. You rarely belittle others and offer witty comebacks to lines. You kind of hang back, dial it down, and work a puppy dog face that I didn't even know you had. Nice try, but it just doesn't work. It's not a good look for you. It looks forced and fake, not the next great comedy actor channeling his inner Jimmy Stewart.
Vince, you put on this aura of heart in Delivery Man but still find a way to use just about every single possible gender and personality stereotype in some mildly offensive way to boost your character's self-serving interests. You think including various forms of homosexuals, foreigners, hipsters, vegans, millennials, etc. makes your movie look wide-reaching and endearing, but it doesn't. It makes it look as phobic and clueless to stereotypes as your David character. The fakest syrup dip of all is finding David ushering around one of his fertility children that is bed-ridden and wheelchair-bound due to physical and mental handicaps. Now, you're just using people to look good and you target the saddest looking demographic possible. Come on, man! That's low.
Every one of the 9,387 hugs, near-cries, and words of affection in Delivery Man just ring so incredibly hollow. It's almost sickening. The sad part is that people are going to fall for this movie the way they fall for Adam Sandler's terrible movies. I wouldn't be surprised if this becomes one of the highest box office earners of your career. They are going to fall for this fake costume of affectionate compassion when all you do is play another unfunny slacker. The funniest person in this movie is Chris Pratt, not you. That's not supposed to happen.
These 104 minutes of Delivery Man are nothing more than 104 minutes of you begging us to love you. How selfish is that? I meant it when I said that you are now no better than Adam Sandler. You should have never went fake-soft like he did long ago. Stick to sarcasm. Stick to being an asshole. It's your strong suit.
In my opinion, and I hate to say this, Vince, I will argue that your character learns nothing from this experience in film. I don't buy the "guardian angel" take. No one is going to call you Clarence. They are going to call you creepy. However, in true fashion to my website, I've got lessons for others to learn that your character doesn't seem to grasp all that well.
LESSON #1: PARENTING BY WAY OF FATHER-FIGURE-- Your character gets it in his mind to take responsibility and be a father-figure to the random kids he picks out of the fertility file. Parenting is way more than the one-time visits on Wednesdays and every other Saturday like some deadbeat dad. I know that 533 children is impossible and implausible, but true parental responsibility is bigger than single moments here and there. See the next two lessons.
LESSON #2: REMEMBERING THE SMALL, YET INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE THAT CHANGE OUR LIVES EACH DAY-- David tries constantly to play a somewhat "guardian angel" role to these kids he picks out. On the bright side, he does do some good for them. David represents those unnamed strangers we meet once and never see again that act courteous or helpful to us. You know, like the people that hold elevators open or return money you dropped in the checkout line. There is a special place for the karma of being one of the helpful strangers to others.
LESSON #3: THE SATISFACTION IN DOING THE RIGHT THING-- Your guy David is a joke. He means well, but he just makes terrible choices. Because he means well all the time but fails, when that guy finally does make the right call to do something responsibly and successfully, it's OK to acknowledge satisfaction in that. Pat yourself on the back, but quantify its value at the same time. Sure, you helped that needy stranger in a nice, but inconsequential way. How about aiming to do that with your real responsibilities? You know, like your debts, your job, or your pregnant girlfriend?
That was my take on Delivery Man, Vince. I'm sure you will win and people will love you, but you lost a fan over here. Sorry if I don't write back for a while, but I really had to get all of this off of my chest. I would prefer if we stop seeing each other in lead roles. Don't worry. You'll be OK and I'll be OK. Dorothy Mantooth is still a saint and I'll wave when I see you next month in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.
I'll try to remember the good times.
The Fan You Lost Who is Damn Glad He Didn't Have To Pay to See Delivery Man